Venezuelan Police Detain Ex-Boxing Champion Valero on Suspicion of Murder

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Former WBC lightweight champion Edwin Valero was detained on suspicion of killing his wife on Sunday, police said.

Venezuelan Federal Police Chief Wilmer Flores said Valero was arrested after police found the body of his 20-year-old wife in a hotel in the city of Valencia. Valero left the hotel room around dawn on Sunday and allegedly told the hotel's security personnel that he had killed Jennifer Viera, Flores said.

Flores told state television that police found three stab wounds on Viera's body. He said Valero was transferred a local police precinct, "where we are headed to take samples needed for the investigation of the case" and to question the boxer.

Valero's lawyer, Milda Mora, did not immediately answer telephone calls seeking comment.

The 28-year-old boxer has been in trouble with the law before.

Last month, Valero was brought up on charges of harassing his wife and threatening medical personnel who treated her at a hospital in the western city of Merida.

Police arrested Valero following an argument with a doctor and nurse at the hospital, where his wife was being treated for a series of injuries, including a punctured lung and broken ribs.

Valero entered a Venezuelan rehabilitation center under on March 28 for treatment of drug and alcohol addiction, Mora said at the time. The boxer's attorney said Viera was injured when she fell down a flight of stairs at the couple's home while checking a water tank located on the roof.

A judge then allowed Valero to be released pending trial, though he must report to court authorities every 90 days and inform them if he plans to leave the country.

Valero criticized the U.S. government last year for failing to renew his visa, which was withheld due to pending drunk driving accusations in Texas. He insisted that he was the victim of "an act of discrimination" because of his sympathy for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez -- one of Washington's most outspoken critics.

The boxer has an image of Chavez tattooed on his chest.

Valero, with a record of 27-0 as a boxer, was replaced as WBC lightweight champion in February after he expressed a desire to challenge for the championship in a higher weight division, said World Boxing Council President Jose Sulaiman.

"He's a boy who is extraordinarily talented in boxing," Sulaiman said by telephone from Mexico City. "It's a shame what is happening."